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So you’ve got a great idea, and want to get started! So did we, and both having previous experience in development and product management, knew that we could an exceptional product, whilst being exceptionally lean!

Initially we didn’t have much to spend in terms of investment, and didn’t want to look for external funding till we had proved our concept first by means of a minimal viable product (MVP).

That lead us on a exciting journey to create Super Simple Survey in the leanest way possible, getting our product out to a potential customer base before spending thousands of dollars (South African Rands in our case) whilst maintaining considerations to future scaling.

So without further adieu  here is our list of ingredients to creating a SAAS startup in a lean manner when you bootstrapping it!

Ingredients:

Hosting:
Amazon EC2 has a free tier, works well for SAAS based products and allows you to get your Minimal Viable Product (MVP) out without paying a cent. This is true cloud hosting.

Domains:
Can use pretty much any major domain provider as they all relatively the same price, we opted for GoDaddy which normally has some pretty sweet deals from time to time.

Customer and Product Surveys:
SuperSimpleSurvey of course. Our free tier has all the features of the paid account, but is limited on responses and users. Absolutely perfect when starting out!

Automated Notifications:
Automated Notifications (SMS and Email) you can use Amazon’s SES and SNS platform which is tied directly your EC2 dashboard ready for integration. Guess what, it also has a free tier!

Google Adwords:
Search for “Google Ad voucher”, and you’ll land on the Google page that gives you a coupon for free adwords credits based off your intial spend.

Front End Website:
Get a theme from WrapBootsrap! It will cost less than $20, but that buys you a damn fine responsive template, using TwitterBootstrap’s CSS framework. We would’ve shaved 2 weeks off design and development if we had known about this sooner.

Backend interface:
Same as above - make sure it’s responsive!

Graphic Design:
Learn some basic photoshop and check tutorials on YouTube, throw it together yourself. if not, commissioning of the thousand designers on Elance or oDesk is easy.

Your Logo:
We outsourced our design initially, but if you have no skills in Photoshop, I would recommend using 99 Designs. I haven’t used them myself, but know of some very successful startups that have had great success with them, with a fast turnaround time.

Coding:
This is a tricky one, if you aren’t a coder yourself, I suggest you partner with one :)

Project management:
Use Scrum as your project methodolgy as it works damn well for MVP, use Trello to manage your workflowand backlog.

Analytics:
Google Analytics, completely free :)

Bulk Email:
Good ‘Ol Mailchimp! Up to 2000 subscribers free, forever!

Social media:
Hootsuite is great to manage your different Social platforms, and the free tier is ideal while you getting started.

Helpdesk:
We opted for Uservoice with their paid plan (roughly $20 p/m), this is mainly due to the fact that we like the way it has combined the Knowledgebase right in with the ticketing (combined with idea management). If you want an alternative option, Zendesk has a startup package with a massive discount.

Conclusion

So far, the above has worked really well for us and will allow us to scale in future. When looking at Raman Profitability, this makes you very lean from the start and will give you a headstart to get up and running in no time!

Any queries, drop me a line at nick@supersimplesurvey.com

Nicholas McCreath
May 27, 2013
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